One-way travel insurance cover

One-way travel insurance provides cover if you’re emigrating, don’t intend to go back to the UK or if you haven’t yet got a return ticket.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 11 January 2023  | 3 min read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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Standard travel insurance policies cover both your outbound and return journeys, plus your time on holiday in-between.

So, to be accepted for cover, you usually need to provide your insurer with the dates of both your start and return journeys.

But what if you haven’t got a return date for travel?

Perhaps you’re emigrating abroad, or you’re going on an open-ended trip without knowing exactly when you’ll return.

In this sort of situation, not all standard travel policies will cover you. You may need to go to a specialist provider that offers one-way travel insurance policies, designed especially for people who don’t have a return ticket home.

Key points

  • Many travel insurers decline cover if you don’t have a return date, but specialists can offer one-way travel policies
  • One-way travel insurance is suitable for people who don’t intend to return to the UK - if you’re emigrating, for example
  • It can also work for people who are going travelling and want to keep their return date flexible, so haven’t booked their return tickets yet

What is one-way travel insurance?

It’s a type of travel insurance for people who either don’t intend to return to the UK, or who are going away and have yet to purchase a return ticket to the UK.

When is one-way travel insurance your best option?

If you don’t have a return date for your trip, then one-way travel insurance could be your best option.

There are a couple of different types of one-way travel insurance.

Some policies are designed to provide cover if you’re not intending to return to the UK - for example if you’re emigrating or are returning to your home country after a period of living in the UK.

Others can cover people going on a trip who haven’t booked their return ticket. This could be because their planned return is too far in advance to be able to book a flight, or because they want to keep their return date flexible.

How does one-way travel insurance work?

If you’re emigrating abroad or returning to your home country after a period of living in the UK, a one-way travel insurance policy can cover your outbound journey - protecting you for things like cancelled flights and lost luggage.

Cover will usually stop within 48 hours of reaching your destination.

So, to be covered for health issues after that time, you’d need to organise your own relevant health insurance in the country you’ll be living in.

If you’re emigrating but want to do some stop-offs en route to your final destination, you can usually extend the policy to include this.

You just need to be sure to select a policy that covers all the countries you’ll be visiting.

One-way travel insurance can also cover you if you have a one-way ticket for a trip or holiday and you’re not sure exactly when you’ll be heading back home. You can take out extended cover, which often lasts up to 18 months or more with some providers.

One-way policies like this can cover you for your outbound journeys and for all stopovers until you reach your final destination, or until the policy end date you choose.

What's covered with one-way travel insurance?

It’ll typically include the same things as standard travel insurance, including cover for:

  • Cancellation
  • Prolonged travel delays
  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Repatriation to your final destination
  • Baggage and personal effects
  • Personal liability
  • Legal expenses
  • Personal money (up to a limit)
  • Options to add on cover for things like adventurous activities and watersports

Pros and cons of one-way travel insurance

One-way travel insurance will typically cover you for everything that a standard travel insurance policy does.

And many insurers will also allow you to take out a policy for up to 18 months with the option to extend your policy as you travel, often up to two years.

Because of the nature of the policy, though, certain types of claim will be affected.

For example, whereas a standard travel insurance policy allows claims for a return ticket home if you have to cut short your trip because someone at home is ill or has passed away, you can’t claim for this with one-way insurance. That’s because you‘d have eventually needed to buy a ticket home anyway.

What are the alternatives to one-way travel insurance?

Backpacker travel insurance (also known as gap-year travel insurance) covers you for a continuous trip, often where you visit various countries. Policies can last for up to 18 months.

And long-stay travel insurance works in a similar way, perfect for extended stays with friends and family or for a lengthy stay in the sunshine to get away from the British winter.

Both types of policies are for people who intend to return to the UK at the end of their trip.

What's the difference between one-way travel cover and annual travel insurance?

An annual travel insurance policy lasts for 12 months and covers you for multiple trips throughout the year. But each trip must start and finish in the UK and the duration of each trip will be limited to a maximum period - usually 31 days.

With a one-way policy, you can travel for longer and keep your return date open-ended.

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